Wednesday, July 29, 2009

'Down With Socialism Healthcare!' Is It Really That Bad?

Universal healthcare to all! Doesn't seem like a bad plan does it? We Canadian's seem to be getting along pretty good with it. Then why is it such a terrible and unspeakable idea for most American Republicans?

President Obama's idea for a healthcare system reform, I thought, was admirable. He is REALLY trying to change things and not just gloss over the problems while he is in office like... well....GW -cough- However, Republican's aren't prepared to let Obama help thousands of people that have to wait for service or have to pay hefty fees for medical procedures... oh no, they have pulled no stops in their criticism. For instance:

On Denverpost.com they report that during a Colorado rally against Obama's healthcare reform a person was quoted as yelling:

"Obama care is sicko" and "our troops did not fight and die for socialism."

And then you have Republican 'tall tales' like the one about Shona Holmes, from Canada, who supposedly received horrible healthcare service for her supposed cancer. The GOP has made her into their spokesperson against the healthcare reform. She has turned into the one example for the whole of the Canadian healthcare system. However, Video Cafe ran a nice story which debunks the whole story, and shows what lengths Republican's are going to discredit the healthcare reform.

What I think really gets the public is the link the Republican's have drawn to socialism (Although the Times provides some very good reasons as well). For many Americans, socialism is what they fought against in wars, and it was deemed a taboo during World War II and the Cold War. People associate it with Hitler and the U.S.S.R. communism. They do not see that they are giving in to stereotypes and how they have been conditioned to respond to concepts such as socialism.

Like Dean Baker points out in his article , referring to the proposed healthcare system:

"The program's huge price tag is equal to about 0.5 percent of projected GDP over the next decade. The Iraq war at its peak cost more than 1.0 percent of GDP."

So what do you think seems to be the more productive move? Support a system that will eventually help people receive the health services they desparately need because they cannot afford them in the present system OR fund a war that is sending troops needlessly into harms way where they are being injured and killed? I don't really think this is a hard decision. Republicans need to look at the long term 'big picture.'

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Does Twittering Make You a Twit?

I, like a lot of bloggers, have joined Twitter. I am not sure what to call myself now that I prescribe to expressing myself in 140 characters or less (am I a tweet? a twit? a twitterer?), but I know that this small amount of space to express yourself causes you to condense your earth-shattering comments into a sentence (or a couple of words).

While I usually agree that shortening and editing what you have to say helps produce better material, I am not sure that this medium (Twitter) is conducive to that. When you are forced to edit your 10 page paper to make it 8 pages it generally causes you to cut out things that are otherwise useless, and you don't normally realize this until you have to go through such editing. However, Twitter only gives you a sentence to state something. This is usually not long enough for anything, and for the most part people post links to articles or other media. Aside from webpage links, most people state something about what they are doing or how they are feeling. In essence, I do not think it is a good medium to replace blogging. You may be able to quickly type something and post it on twitter in a matter of seconds, but that doesn't mean it will be worth while to read (really... do I need to know if you spilled coffee on yourself or you just bought a doughnut?).

Aside from the usually trivial and useless material that Twitter (sort of) forces people to post, it is useful in one sense: marketing. Yes, if you are a member of Twitter you've probably been "followed" by a few people who are really just spamming 'bots.' But besides these annoying people, it is a good medium to get other webpages (where good content can be posted), such as a blog, news website, videoes, etc. I personally like to use it to pose questions. I find this one of the best uses (besides posting links to informative material) of Twitter because a question promotes people to think about an issue, which you can most likely convey in a sentence. People then usually take a stand on said issue, and will more often than not try to communicate their opinion (usually through a messageboard, comment box, blog, etc.) Not only does it make people think, but it promotes them to react, which is the lifeblood of blogging.

In conclusion, I think Twitter is like owning a gun. Anyone can own a gun, but it takes a skilled person to know how to use it properly.

(for a discussion of lowered attention spans, see my earlier blog post on this)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Eco or Econ?

I was watching a documentary today (Toxic Imperial Valley) and the commentary in the film was interviewing a group of desert racers who flocked to the Salton Sea area to drive their bikes and offroad vehicles across the desert dunes. In the interview the driver of one of the vehicles argued that one volcano released more carbon dioxide than all the people in the world combined. His conclusion was that therefore he should do what he wants because he argued that the world was here for people to use and do with what they please (he also did not believe in global warming). His final few comments were most interesting though because he told the commentator to look around. In front of him were two dune buggies and a bike. He said that what you see before you is about $90 000 worth of equipment. He continued by stating that what the dune racers were doing was important because they were supporting the economy by spending all that money.

This comment made the gears in my head turn, and I began to think...so essentially this man is arguing that despite the fact that he is contributing to the destruction of the desert ecosystem (and the general polution of the Salton Sea area) his justification was that he was supporting the economy. This caused me to pause and wonder if more people justify destructive behaviour, like this, because they believe they are helping the economy. My next thought was... just how important is the economy anyways? I began to try and analyze this...

the economy is important because when he buys a vehicle, or upgrades for his vehicle, he supports a company....
because he supports a company, people are able to be employed...
because of this families are able to support themselves from the money gained from the employment...
then these same people buy more things, and thus completing the cycle of the employee-consumer....

This was all fine and dandy, and I began to understand his point of view. Hey, by buying his vehicles he was sustaining our world! But wait there are more factors:

although he may have been supporting a company, which in turn, helps a family... the money ends up back with the company and not with the families that REALLY need it. The executives end up with the money in the end because they have created this illusion of freedom when in reality the majority of people help sustain a select few. We are free... free to spend. As soon as we get our money we spend it.

The second notion that entered my mind was that I don't think the economy is more important than the environment. Sure, the economy can collapse and we can rebuild it (as we have seen over the past year)...the environment is not as forgiving. We need to be conscious of our decisions and how they affect the environment. If we didn't have an economy. No money. No banks... we would survive. Without the forests, rivers, plants and animals... where would we be? You can't survive on a chequebook!e